Denver 29, Pittsburgh 23, had it all: The Broncos were coming off three dreadful performances and that continued in the first quarter against the Steelers when they amassed just eight yards; Pittsburgh collapsed in the second quarter and inept Denver scored an astonishing 20 points; there was the late Willis McGahee fumble that allowed Pittsburgh to tie it; Big Ben’s last drive in regulation was thwarted; Demaryius Thomas won it on an 80-yard catch and stiff arm and run. Toss in the Tebow-factor, and you’ve got an instant classic.
So yes, no matter what you think of Tebow and this craziness, a Denver game in the 4 o’clock hour delivered late drama yet again. The other three walk off receiving touchdowns in NFL playoff history all came in the divisional round.
Let’s take a jaunt down memory lane for the other top Wild Card games of the last decade.
5. Seattle 21, Dallas 20 (January 6, 2007). Tony Romo became a legend … as a holder.
4. Pittsburgh 36. Cleveland 33 (January 5, 2003): The Kelly Holcomb game. Cleveland wasn’t given much of a chance in this one, as Holcomb was starting in place of an injured Tim Couch. The Browns jumped out to a 17-7 halftime lead, and the Steelers only scored on a Randle-El punt return. Cleveland extended it to 24-7 in the third quarter. Holcomb ended up throwing for 429 yards and three touchdowns, but the legendary Tommy Maddox led two touchdown drives in the final 3 and half minutes, as Pittsburgh rallied for the win.
3. Arizona 51, Green Bay 45 (January 10, 2010): Remember when Aaron Rodgers couldn’t win a road playoff game despite throwing for over 400 yards? Fraud! Warner and Rodgers combined for 802 yards and 9 touchdowns in regulation and neither defense could stop a cold. Then, this happened. And yes, it was a face mask and there’s no way that wouldn’t result in a $100,000 fine and a visit with Roger in 2011.
2. Green Bay 33, Seattle 27 (January 4, 2004). “We want the ball, and we’re gonna score!” Someday, you can tell your kids how you watched Mike Sherman win a close game.
1. San Francisco 39, New York Giants 38 (January 5, 2003). The Giants led 38-14 with 18 minutes remaining, but Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens and Tai Streets brought the 49ers back. The Giants lined up for the game-winning field goal, but Trey Junkin’s bad snap led to mayhem and holder Matt Allen desperation heave wasn’t caught.
[photo via Getty]